Exciting prospect Joao Gomes has signed his first senior contract with South Shields.

The 18-year-old, who has impressed since joining the club’s Academy in the summer of 2019, has put pen to paper on a two-year deal at 1st Cloud Arena.

Gomes was an integral part of the young Mariners’ remarkable run to the third round of the FA Youth Cup in the 2019-20 season, scoring four goals including a dramatic stoppage time winner against Morecambe and a spectacular long-range strike against Harrogate Town.

The attacking midfielder will now link-up with Shields’ first-team squad and has expressed his determination to catch the eye of the management.

He said: “I’m really happy and excited to have signed this contract.

“I feel like all of the hard work I’ve put in over the last two years has paid off to get to this point, but now I need to push on again.

“I can’t wait to see what the future holds for me at this club and it’s my responsibility now to make sure I’m ready to play in the first-team.”

Skilful Gomes grew up in Lisbon, Portugal, and has caught the eye since joining Shields with his creative and goalscoring ability.

First-team manager Graham Fenton was pleased to secure the services of a player who had attracted attention from a number of clubs higher up the pyramid.

He said: “We’re delighted that Joao has signed a two-year contract with the club.

“He has shown real promise over the last couple of years in the Academy and produced some exceptionally good performances, particularly in the FA Youth Cup run two seasons ago.

“Joao has had plenty of interest from clubs higher up the football pyramid and has been on several trials, so it is great that he has committed his future to us.

“He will come straight into the first-team squad and it is now up to him in his actions and performances to force his way into our minds in terms of team selection.

“He has some very talented footballers in front of him at the moment and it will take a lot of hard work and dedication to push his way past those players, but we have already seen that he has high quality and we’re looking forward to seeing him rise to the challenge.”

The club would like to thank Catalyst Professional Sports Management for their valued assistance with this deal.

An extended interview with Joao Gomes will be published on the website later this week.

South Shields’ Academy players have enjoyed another largely positive week – with the highlight coming as they progressed in the ECFA League play-offs.

The young Mariners kicked off the week with a trip to Scarborough Athletic in the National League Under-19 Alliance on Monday.

There were plenty of positives to take from the game at Flamingo Land Stadium, but there was late disappointment for Shields as they fell to a 4-3 defeat.

Jon Shaw and Wess Brown took a team mainly made up of first-year Academy players to North Yorkshire and they had a slow start to the game, when it became evident it would be an open affair.

Scarborough struck the first goal of the afternoon but Shields battled back well, with strikes from Rob Ryland and Geoff Hearn putting them into a winning position.

The aim at the start of the second half for the Mariners was to continue where they left off at the end of the first 45 minutes, but they conceded an equaliser and a controversial penalty was then awarded against them when Lewis Black was adjudged to have handled in the box. Ethan Hodgson saved the spot-kick but was then ruled to have stepped off his line, resulting in a retake, when a different penalty taker converted to put Scarborough 3-2 in front.

Shields continued to dominate possession and equalised with five minutes remaining as Josh Elcoate notched a penalty before they pressed for a winner.

They looked set to find it when Jack Wilkinson was played in on goal but an apparent foul on the forward went unpunished and the Seadogs counter-attacked before scoring what proved to be the winner from a corner.

Head of Professional Development Jon Shaw said: “Although the result was disappointing, it wasn’t the be all and end all.

“There were a lot of real positives in the way the lads played, but they need to understand how to manage games and be a bit more ruthless when they have so much possession.

“The lads were unfortunate on the day.”

The Academy returned to action with two matches on Wednesday, which included a trip to Barnsley in the first play-off round of the ECFA League.

The young Mariners knew they were in for a difficult afternoon against a team which had won their league and they started slowly, whereas Barnsley looked sharp and dangerous, and caused Shields problems in the early stages.

Shields started to get to grips with the game and although they fell behind, they levelled things up before half-time when Will Jenkins brilliantly found Oscar Taylor and he made it 1-1.

The Mariners’ second half performance was much-improved and there were a number of impressive performances. Jamie Whitehead gave them the lead when he won and converted a penalty, and the victory was secured when Taylor notched his second in the closing stages to seal a 3-1 win.

In the National League Under-19 Youth Alliance, meanwhile, another youthful side impressively defeated Harrogate Town 5-2.

A difficult game was expected against a Harrogate side which won the reverse fixture 3-0.

First-team joint managers Lee Picton and Graham Fenton took charge of the team for the match and they oversaw a hugely positive performance.

A hat-trick from Hearn was added to by goals from Wilkinson and Joao Gomes as the three points were secured.

Joao Gomes struck a dramatic stoppage-time winner as South Shields deservedly booked their place in the second round of the FA Youth Cup at Mariners Park on Wednesday.

Urged on by a vocal home support, the young Mariners produced one of their most gutsy displays to date as they came from a goal behind against a physically strong Morecambe side.

The Shrimps had taken the lead in just the 13th minute but Shields’ first half performance was good and they will have been frustrated to go in at half-time a goal behind.

They stuck to their principles after the break and got their reward, with Ben Errington heading them level before Gomes struck the decisive blow in the third minute of added time as Shields got their reward for a sustained period of pressure.

A home tie against Accrington Stanley or Hartlepool United awaits them in the second round.

The early stages against Morecambe were fairly even before the visitors opened the scoring in the 13th minute.

Amilcar Codjoui Djau pounced on a loose ball in the middle before drilling an impressive effort into the bottom corner from 25 yards as the Shrimps showed a clinical edge.

Shields’ response was instant and they almost equalised on the quarter-hour mark as Will Morris got in behind on the right before squaring for Gomes, who was denied by goalkeeper Andre Mendes.

The home side created their best chance of the first half with five minutes left of it as they worked the ball forward well before Will Jenkins’ strike was blocked by a defender.

The young Mariners continued to persevere after half-time but were handed another test of their character when Morris converted a rebound after a Sam Hodgson effort was saved, and their celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.

The equaliser felt like it was coming, though, and it arrived on 65 minutes as Stephen Black curled in a terrific corner from the left and Errington met it with an equally impressive header into the bottom corner to restore parity.

Shields sensed blood and attacked at every opportunity, with Black firing over from the edge of the box before later teasing in another superb delivery from the left which just evaded the head of Errington.

Morecambe rarely threatened the Mariners’ goal in the second half but had a decent five-minute spell around the 80 minute mark in which they could have scored twice.

Freddie Price collected the ball high up the pitch and arrowed a powerful effort just wide before a 25 yard free-kick from the same player dropped narrowly past Ethan Hodgson’s post.

The young Mariners again got back on top, though, as they tried to grind down their visitors in the closing stages and avoid extra-time.

Jenkins fired over from distance as they started to turn the screw and when five minutes of added time were indicated, Shields seized the initiative.

Hodgson played in Rob Ryland down the right of the area and his effort was blocked before the ball broke to Jenkins just outside the area.

He drove into the box and although a defender was tugging at his shirt, he stayed on his feet and dribbled left before picking out Gomes in the six-yard box, where he finished the chance to spark pandemonium.

Shields held on in what became an extended added period as they deservedly made it through on what was an outstanding night at Mariners Park.

SOUTH SHIELDS: E Hodgson, L Black (Agnew 46), Croft, Ames (Dunn 63), Wade, Errington, Morris (Ryland 82), S Black, Hodgson (c), Jenkins, Gomes. Subs not used: Steavens, Williamson, Spraggon, Taylor.

Goals: Errington (65), Gomes (90+3).

Attendance: 312.

WORDS: Daniel Prince. IMAGE: Kev Wilson.